Chore Monster: Keep track of chores and set up rewards

HomelifeChore Monster is a website and iPhone app that encourages your kid to do chores around the house. Parents set up a list of chores for their kids to do, such as making the bed, setting and clearing the table, taking care of pets, taking out the trash, etc. Each chore gets assigned a certain number of points. These points can be redeemed for rewards, such as cash, screen time, iTunes gift cards, and so on. They also earn random pet monsters as they complete chores.

Each child gets an account with a username and password, and they can keep track of their chore score on the Chore Monster iPhone app. When they accumulate enough points, they can redeem them for one of their rewards. I just registered and downloaded the app, so I don't know if this is going to work or not. I hope so!


  1. The difficulty is that you need an “Invite Code” just to be able to register for the Parent app.  I searched and found the codes, “GEEKMOM” and “GEEKDAD” to be good codes.  I can’t imagine the iPhone/iPad child app would be useful without the Parent app, which needs this code to register it.  I’ll try it out today and let you know our experiences!

    1. Hey princessalex: we’ll be moving out of our private beta phase within the next month or so, which has MANY improvements (including a parents portion of the app; where you can do everything you can do on the website). I hope you like it!

  2. From their FAQ:

    Is the “potty humor” necessary?
    Yes. Absolutely. Fart face.

    I like these people.

  3. As a new parent who will someday face the challenge of getting my child to help around the house, I’m torn. On the one hand, it seems like an innovative way to reward kids. On the other, the only reward I received as a child for doing chores was my parents’ gratitude (though in my teenage years allowance was partially tied to chores). In some small way I think it helped me be a bit more selfless, and I wonder if something like this encourages a “What’s in it for me?” attitude

    1. A reward is completely up to a parent (we do not set any parameters on what a reward constitutes) – we want to allow parents to parent how they parent – that said, our belief is that habit change is best effected through incentive – adults are really no different in this regard (I recommend reading the book “The Power of Habit”). 

      If chores are happen to be an issue in your household, then a habit change (behavior modification) is probably necessary- for parents and kids. I think we tend to idealistically believe that “altruism” is some end-all-be-all of life, but it seems to me that we’re all motivated to do things based on outside influences (and not always a positive influence) – and now I’m rambling … I’ll stop now. 

      1. I wouldn’t say that altruism is the end-all-be-all, only a positive character trait to have, just as self-interest is sometimes useful and necessary. It would be naive to think the world runs on altruism (we could also get into a discussion about whether altruism is ever really possible, or whether doing chores constitutes altruism…)

        If a parent wants to reward their child (even if she/he is doing chores without protest) then I say fill your boots! It’s ultimately up to parents to teach their kids the value of things like altruism and delaying gratification, and the app in and of itself doesn’t get in the way of doing that.

    2. Rewards have been counterproductive to intrinsic motivation. They establish the habit of ONLY doing things to get a reward and are a sure way to kill any intrinsic motivation. 

      Shockingly!… logical.

      I recommend reading the book Punished by Rewards by Alfie Kohn, citing study after study on the counterproductive effects of rewards and punishment.

      If your child enjoys drawing and you want them to stop it, start rewarding it. Soon they will lose interest, guaranteed.

      The carrot / stick method work only in the presence of a carrot and a stick. In their absence, children are left by themselves, with underdeveloped decision-making skills, not being able to listen to themselves. 

    3. @Colin Curry, I couldn’t have said it better.  I grew up much the same as you, it sounds like. I’m glad someone else posted their concerns about rewarding behaviors that should be rote by adulthood. Meeting my parents’ demands wasn’t up for question. I even got the belt or the fraternity paddle on rare occasions if I didn’t do what I was told to (although I’d not go that far with my children.. and it wasn’t like the scene from Dazed and Confused!). My mom wasn’t a fan of that way to induce compliance and that ended before I was even 9.

      Essentially, I believe there’s a proper way to induce proper ‘ownership’ of one’s responsibilities –at least, ones that eventually become our default adult responsibilities, e.g., bathing, housecleaning, the concept of ‘work’ and ‘learning’, etc. However, I’m wondering if we should use electronic devices like this to be the ‘scorekeeper’, rather than the child and/or the parents with a chalkboard or notepad. Once small electronic devices enter the picture, ‘ownership’ takes on a whole new meaning.

  4. Yes, condition your child to do things ONLY if punishments or rewards are involved… now there’s an app for that!

    Believing that if you reward a behavior the child hates enough times, the child will somehow magically start loving it, because, like a bird or a rat’s brain, the child’s brain will associate it with a reward. Welcome to 1950’s psychology derived from experiments with rodents being applied to 2012 human beings. Greeeeaaat.

    For a little bit of what contemporary science says about the effectiveness of punishment and reward on human beings and especially children, see Alfie Kohn’s Punished by Rewards. Hint: consistent negative results and harm, across the board.

    1.  Actually, Aristotle as far back as 400 BC already thought morality was a result of habit! Hardly pure 1950s psychology.

       Although he did argue that the point was to aim for the correct pleasures and avoid the correct pains, rather than aim for pleasure and avoid pain across the board. So perhaps the problem is with training habits purely by the use of rewards. The App-maker himself seemed to suggest that parents can pick what kinds of rewards are used, IF any. I suppose you can also just use the app as a way of keeping track of what chores are being done by the child overall.

      1. This is a complex topic unfit for the context provided by a single comment. I will offer a few guidelines.

        Chores are based on the belief that if a parent forces or manipulates the child into doing something enough times, the child will eventually love it and do it by themselves. This is mostly false. The real lesson is that using manipulation/force (rewards/punishment) is the way to relate to others. A lesson in disrespect.

        Children learn first by experience (what is done to them), modeling (what they see people do) and then everything else. 

        Children who grow up in a mostly tidy environment end up having a “norm” which they then apply to their own lives, when they are ready (end of teens). Tidiness is rarely a young child’s priority. Adding “incentives” for something a child is not ready for is not helpful as it takes focus away from what they are ready for. 

        Children who grow up with a lot of agency and space to make meaningful choices learn to listen to themselves and make good choices. Giving children agency is often uncomfortable for parents who grew up without it so it’s culturally accepted to choose for the child, something which only perpetuates the issue. 

        Believing that unless a child is manipulated into it, they will never learn to pay their bills, keep their space clean, take the trash out etc. shows and abysmal lack of trust in humanity. 

        The other part of chores is contribution to the family, everyone helping. My recommendation would be to work with the child on (age-appropriate) things they enjoy and freely choose to contribute to. If they don’t choose to do so, respect their choice without punishment (or withdrawal of affection/goodies), thus modeling true respect. What the child may choose (let’s say paint their room) could be uncomfortable for the parent (who was hoping the child would want to help with cleaning their toys) so that’s another chance for respectful collaboration and negotiation.

        Let’s be honest and see rewards for the manipulation that they are. Manipulated contribution is just a trade. Establishing a primarily business relationship with one’s child is a losing proposition in terms of authenticity, intimacy, connection and healthy emotional life.

        Currently my household does not have children. When it did, we went through the “chores” phase which I found a little too unpleasant. So I stopped the manipulation and opened myself to receive and cherish the authentic contributions. My stepson is tidy, successful, responsible and on time.

  5. Interesting.  When i was a kid and didn’t bring in wood for the furnace I found myself in a cold house with upset family members.  If I didn’t pick vegetables from the garden then supper was short and I got hungry.  If I didn’t do my laundry I wore dirty wrinkled clothes to school and my friends made comments. If I didn’t shovel the walk I got snow in my boots going out to the bus.

    My kids learn the same way.  I don’t need a live internet connection and someone else’s project management ideas for stuff to get done around my house.  If my kids don’t do something they should do, they find out the hard way why they should have done that, directly, not through some invented proxy reward that isn’t relevant and probably not needed anyway.

    If they don’t shovel the driveway then they don’t get to use the car until it gets shoveled.  If they don’t rake the leaves then I can’t help them do something else because I was busy raking the leaves, and then too tired to help them.  If they don’t learn how to fix their own computer then it takes a while before I can get to it…

    Manufactured, irrelevant rewards trains our kids to be pavlovian slaves, not independent, forward thinking, productive members of society.

    1. This is the “natural consequence” school of parenting, much closer to how life works. The danger here lies when/if the parent starts creating “natural” consequences which life does not provide. 

      If the driveway is snowy, the car cannot be driven. This is natural. If I forgot my jacket and it starts raining, I get wet. This is natural. If my room is messy, I can’t find my stuff easily. Natural. 

      If a child didn’t get an “A” and their parents refused to take them to a movie night, that is NOT natural, it is a manipulation. 

      Not sure at what age a child could be given the responsibility to wash their own clothes. This is a tough one as it is the parent’s decision to stop providing a certain type of care. It would be helpful if such a transition went along with a conversation explaining why, and the parent’s reasoning was about themselves and not about “shaping” the child. “I am very busy and would like to have a little more rest. I would appreciate it if you would take care of your own clothes. I can show you how. Would you be willing to start doing this?” is honest, respectful, direct and very different from “You are old enough and you should X.”

      “Shoulds” are violent and toxic, avoid.

      > Manufactured, irrelevant rewards trains our kids to be pavlovian slaves, not independent, forward thinking, productive members of society.

      Strongly worded but unfortunately rings true. People focusing on rewards do not know what makes them tick and don’t know how to listen to it. So their contributions will always be limited by the imagination of the highest bidder. So much wasted genius!

    2. We use a similar site, high score house, and it works well. As for the pavlovian slave route, I disagree fully. In real life, you go to a job, do your work, and get paid. In our house, you have chores, you do them, you get paid. If you don’t perform IRL, you get fired. If you don’t do them here, you suffer punishments; no electronics, no tv, no .

      If your method is ‘If you don’t do chores, I punish you harshly, and if you do, you get nothing’ then really, you are just teaching slavery or maybe indentured servitude. But in reality in most first world countries, your work has value. My kids get enough ‘stars’ (Currency for High Score House) to equal maybe $10 or $15 a week, and they are both good about saving up for bigger things they want. And when they get such things (Video games, ponies (the toy kind. :P ), board games, whatever) they feel quite invested in them as they earned them and bought them. 

      Of course we still buy them things (We are after all parents, and honestly it is a joy to give them things), but less so than we did before we started using such a system. And we also hold them to some degree of responsibility for things. My daughter was given an iPod for christmas and broke the screen, and now she has to pay to repair it (Non optional), which is teaching her a good deal about consequences and responsibility, with the bonus that once she’s saved up, she gets a beloved thing back.

      So no, I don’t agree with you. :P I feel we are preparing them for a job and real life as much as anyone else is, and moreso than many.

Comments are closed.